Great Wall West, Great Wall East, Ringer's Wall


These three sites are really what made Little Cayman famous in the dive community.  This is sheer wall country, as in totally vertical straight-down plunge.  I've never seen wall diving anywhere in the world to match it.  You have to see it to believe it!  I will always remember my first experience of diving this wall.  You swim out in barely 20' of water, over a hardpan bottom, and suddenly the bottom falls away and goes straight down, as far as you can see.  Rare is the person who doesn't experience a sense of vertigo as he swims out over that drop-off for the firs time.  The wall is nearly flat, with very few outcroppings or canyons to interrupt it. 

There is one entry point I use for these three sites, and it is easy to find.  Starting at the intersection of North Coast Road and Spot Bay Road, head east for 0.6 miles until you see a driveway off to your left.  Immediately to your right you will see a sign that says, "Future Home of Bloody Bay Dive Resort; Venture Partner Needed".  Take the driveway, but do NOT follow it very far.  I have been stuck twice on this driveway in the loose sand, and it's not a fun experience.  Go only as far as you are very sure of the ground, then stop and get out and walk.  In just a few feet, you will see signs of other people having been stuck and having placed all kinds of strange objects under their tires in order to try to get traction to get out.  As you continue walking, you will see signs of some building ruins off to your right.  Many years ago, Sam McCoy, who I think owns this property, built a nice little building here.  He was going to open a beachfront bar, and this was the perfect setting for it.  The only problem was that he was never able to get a liquor license, so the bar never opened.  For a while his son Chris McCoy lived in the place, along with his wife at that time, but eventually both the building and the marriage broke up during some nasty storms.  So now it's just some ruins...but waiting for a venture partner!

At the water's edge at the end of this drive you will see a large mooring ball directly in front of you, a smaller one slightly off to the west, and another smaller one off to your right, on the east.  These three are, respectively, Great Wall West, Great Wall East, and Ringer's Wall.  The two balls to the left are at arbitrarily chosen points along the wall, but here is actually a topographical feature to mark Ringer's Wall.  The way out here is fairly rugged, so be forewarned.  As you start out, the bottom is kind of "crunchy", with lots of small sea urchins living in the crevices.  After a short while, you will come to a bar which is nearly at surface level, so it is a step up of a foot or so to that narrow bar.  Then the bar drops off abruptly, and you're into about 2' of water.  This continues for quite a ways, with a very uneven bottom, until you're in about 4' of water and you reach the fringing reef.  This fringing reef is continuous along this area, so there's no way to go around it.  Instead, you go through it.  Put your mask on, stick your head in the water, and look carefully.  You will eventually spot a narrow opening through which you can slide.  Do it quickly, and get clear of the fringing reef as quickly as you can.  And do NOT try to do this is the water is rough so that you can't see where you're going when you put your head in the water.  Rough water always means surge, and surge will slam you into the sharp coral with surprising force.  Going through this fringing reef is child's play on a calm day, but nearly impossible when the water is rough.  Once you're past the fringing reef, the bottom will drop away fairly quickly, so you can relax at that point and swim out on your back.

I usually dive this area from west to east, since that is usually into the prevailing current.  But there are no guarantees, so watch the bottom as you go out.  The current does flow both directions here, though normally it is from east to west.  So usually I head towards some point between the Great Wall West and the Great Wall East balls.  It doesn't really much matter where, since the wall is all pretty much the same.  The bottom will drop away very slowly as you go out to maybe 25'.  What is amazing about this area, though, is how dramatic that plunge at the edge of the wall is.  Once you go down, and head down over the wall, swim directly away from the wall for a while until you're about 50' out.  Then turn around and take a look.  It really is a magnificent sight to get out there and be able to take in a stretch of the wall at one view.  You are hanging suspended in several hundred feet of water with nothing but empty blackness beneath you while in front of you is this spectacular flat wall that stretches off endlessly in both directions.

While you cruise the wall, you really should have a dive light with you.  To dive Bloody Bay Wall without a dive light is to miss all the color, and also to miss all the little stuff you will discover hiding in the small caves and cracks along the wall.  And as you swim along you might look back behind you every now and then.  My heartbeat always does a triple take whenever a Caribbean Reef Shark comes swimming along beside me that I didn't know was there.  They never bother you and I have never seen or heard of one making an aggressive move toward a diver.  Nevertheless, I really don't like being startled by them.  Beyond that, I will spare you the gentile reader from further description of what is to be found along Bloody Bay Wall.  Instead, take a camera, get yourself a copy of Humann & DeLoach, and then go teach yourself! 

As you cruise east along the wall, you will eventually reach a canyon that cuts into the wall.  Follow that canyon and go up to about 40'.  There you should be able to find a "ring" of coral about 4' in diameter which gives an opening out to the open sea.  I am told that this was the basis for the name "Ringer's Wall", and that canyon and ring are right by the mooring ball at the dive site.  This is a very convenient turn-around point, if you wish, and you can then either cruise back west along the hardpan or follow the wall at a shallower depth on the way back.  Somewhere here there is a Common Octopus which has taken up residence at this site.  I've seen evidence of him, but have not been able to find his hole.  One of the divemasters at Southern Cross makes a weekly point of taking his divers to Ringer's and showing them the octopus, but so far I can't find it.  He says it's right underneath where the boat swings under the prevailing ESE winds.  But despite all his descriptions, I still can't find that octopus hole on my own.

In past years, I used to cruise the wall on down to Randy's Gazebo.  In one tank of air, I could make it from Great Wall West down to the canyon at Randy's, then come up the chute and make it about half way back on top of the hardpan before I had to surface.  Since then, though, I have found a better way to get out to Randy's and so now take my time to cruise the wall more slowly, turning around instead at Ringer's and going back along the edge of the wall.  One added benefit is that this gives me time to come back inshore on the bottom, which is a bit of a safety factor.

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